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Hard at Work in Indy

Courtesy Of The New York Jets

The New York Jets are well-represented in Indianapolis this weekend, gathering with their NFL counterparts for the league’s annual Combine. But the Green & White, who own the number four overall selection in April’s Draft, have more on their mind than 330 of the nation’s top prospects working America’s heartland. The Jets made a bevy of roster moves earlier this week, and the team will continue to be busy before the commencement of free agency next Thursday.

On Tuesday, the Jets began their spring flurry by placing the franchise tag on WE-LB John Abraham, who ranks fourth on the franchise’s all-time sack chart with 53.5 sacks. A day later, they parted ways with seven players including T Jason Fabini, QB Jay Fiedler, All-Pro CB Ty Law and FB Jerald Sowell. Only hours later, first-year General Manager Mike Tannenbaum was pleased to announce the team had reached an agreement on a restructured contract with RB Curtis Martin, the NFL’s fourth all-time leading rusher.

“That, to me, just reinforces the type of players I want to be around. I want to be around guys like Curtis Martin,” said New York head coach Eric Mangini during his press conference at the NFL scouting combine. “And that’s who I want to be on my team – the guys that are smart, hard-working, selfless and competitive. Those are the qualities I’m looking for and what he did for the Jets.”

The NFL salary cap is projected to be $92 million for the ’06 season, and the Jets have to be at the number by Thursday. Tannenbaum told reporters that he is negotiating with Chad Pennington’s agent Tom Condon. Pennington is under contract with the Jets, but the team may want to re-work his deal as well.

“We’ve had conversations, and we’re working hard towards coming up to a resolution, but pursuant to club policy, we’re not getting into any specifics,” said Tannenbaum in regards to Pennington. “We’ve had many conversations. I’ll just leave it at that. We’re in the middle of active negotiations.”

This week’s release of seven players cleared financial room for the Jets. Tannenbaum, who is known to be a cap guru, and Mangini will have to make a number of decisions over the next few days.

“I’m very comfortable with where our cap situation is right now,” Mangini said. “We’re going to continue to address that like we address all the other issues: free agency, the draft. But I’m comfortable with the guys running the cap situation.”

It is possible the Pennington negotiation could run late into next week.

“My experience in the league is things happen at deadlines,” Tannenbaum said. “In a perfect world things wouldn’t manifest themselves at deadlines, but they do. Certainly player negotiations always seem to ramp up and get finalized one way or the other as deadlines approach.”

The organization has a clear outlook as deadlines near.

“Ideally all these issues would get resolved sooner than later,” Tannenbaum said. “But we’re going to make the best decision for the Jets. That can happen today, that can happen three meals from now. It’s hard to say. Whenever these situations occur, we’re going to make the best decision for the organization.”

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